Are there any disadvantages to a party being self-represented?
Yes, there are several. Despite the cost to hire a lawyer, it is always best to have competent legal representation while participating in a Family Law matter.
It goes without saying that the law is complex. Without legal training, it is easy to misunderstand or be overwhelmed by the required procedural steps and evidentiary rules. It is also easy to misapprehend the law as it applies to particular facts, and to overlook important strategic opportunities.
Practically speaking, courts may show more patience with a self-represented litigant. However, they are under no obligation to do so. Nor are they required to “hand hold”, point out any procedural errors, or delay a hearing to allow the proper materials to be gathered. This means that an ill-prepared self-represented litigant can severely prejudice his or her case.